Bodleian in the House of Commons exhibition

 9 December 2008

ChurchillA selection of 15 items from the Conservative Party Archive at the Bodleian Library is showcased in the exhibition Turning Points: Three key elections of the 20th century at the House of Commons between 6 and 12 December. Sponsored by the History of Parliament Trust, the display also features articles from the archives of the Labour Party at the Peopleís History Museum and the Liberal Party at the London School of Economics.

Amongst the items loaned by the Bodleian is a satirical cartoon lampooning Liberal reforms, a Conservative party leaflet attacking the new governmentís record a few months after the 1906 election, and a letter from the Prime Minister, Henry Campbell- Bannerman, to Herbert Asquith dated 21 January 1906.

The exhibition brings together posters, documents and photographs to present a genuinely cross-party perspective of the elections, and at the same time raise awareness of a rich resource that exists for the study of modern British political history.

The 1906, 1945 and 1979 general elections are arguably the most significant elections of the 20th century. Each ushered in a distinct new era in British politics, the impact of which still resounds to the present day. Shifts in public mood and political ideas during these periods were to have major consequences in shaping the government.

The Turning Points exhibition takes place in the Upper Waiting Hall, House of Commons, London, from 6-12 December.

The Conservative Party Archive is the official archive of the Conservative Party and was established at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, in 1978 in order to preserve the records of the Partyís central and national organisations, and to facilitate research and study into its history.

Recognised as a valuable source for historians of modern British economic, social and political history, the Conservative Party Archive complements other holdings of modern British political papers within the Bodleianís Department of Special Collections & Western Manuscripts, which together form one of the four most important collections of its kind in the United Kingdom, and include the papers of six Prime Ministers (Disraeli,Asquith, Attlee, Macmillan, Wilson, and Callaghan).

Papers held in the Archive represent all three areas of Party organisation: elected, through the papers of the 1922 Committee, Shadow Cabinet and Chief Whipís Office; voluntary, through the papers of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations (including its Provincial Councils), and its successor the National Conservative Convention; and professional, through the working files of the Conservative Research Department, Conservative Central Office (including its Area Offices) and its successor, Conservative Campaign Headquarters and their many departments and committees.

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